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Category Archives: Sexual Abuse

Thursday’s Child by Jacqueline Mitchell

Warning: Content may have triggers for some


Do you remember this rhyme?

Monday’s child is fair of face,

Tuesday’s child is full of grace,

Wednesday’s child is full of woe,

Thursday’s child has far to go,

Friday’s child is loving and giving,

Saturday’s child works hard for it’s living,

But the child that’s born on the Sabbath Day,

Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.
  
Me at 1 year old with my great grandmother
First some context: I was born on a Thursday in August of 1961. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on the 22nd of November, 1963. What does the birth of an unremarked and unremarkable girl child have to do with the death of a sitting president? Just this: I remember the day he died, young as I was. I remember my mother and older brother sitting in front of a black and white television, crying; the television showed an airplane sitting alone on a tarmac. It is a remarkably clear memory for one slightly over two years old, but it isn’t my first memory. No, my first memory is of two much older male relatives performing sexual acts on me. Let me make this absolutely clear, since some of the folk who will read this know me personally: it was not my father, stepfather, brother or stepbrothers and the perpetrators are long dead and gone, past hurting another child. The degree of consanguinity, however, was close enough to make the betrayal of trust horrific.

I will not go into details about the abuse; it is unnecessary and not pertinent to the point of this article; nonetheless I will point out that unprotected, penetrative sex…no, lets call it what it really was, rape, abusively incestuous rape… began at an early age. At first the things which frightened me were the extreme pain, the humiliation, the feeling of beingdirty and the guilt. I’ve yet to speak with a survivor who didn’t feel guilt in some proportion at some point in their lives…it’s what children do; assuming they are the centre of the world and are thus guilty if anything goes wrong. Later, and not much later at that, I found a whole new world of fear. I was an early developer, so my menstrual cycles began at a young age, and other signs of my developing body burgeoned, literally. At age 14 I had to have breast reduction surgery.

Me at about 2 years old
My mother, bless her heart, tried to explain the birds and bees to me when my cycles began … unusual in that place and time … and I quickly grasped the pertinent information with a feeling of horror. I could get pregnant from what was being done to me.

I make no claims of having any deep understanding of what that meant, at least at first, other than the self-centred notion that everyone would know what a bad, dirty, nasty girl I was; it was bad enough, in my eyes, that I and my abusers knew. Later, however, it began to penetrate that it would be bad for more than just me ….

How could I … young and defenseless as I was, keep or raise a child (especially if it was a girl) knowing that it could be hurt in the same ways I was, and I would be helpless to protect it? I couldn’t even protect myself at that age! How could I give it up for adoption knowing that, even then, adopted children were beginning to successfully seek out their birth parents? How could I curse a child by telling it how it was conceived, and how could I look at it without hate if it found me?

I can’t tell you exactly when I realized that if I got pregnant I would either have an abortion, or kill myself but I do know it was around the age of twelve. A friend of the family had gotten ‘into trouble’ and gave the child up for adoption, and when the child got a bit older he began wanting to meet his birth mother so that wasn’t an option. It didn’t take me long, even in those pre-internet days, to realise I’d have to have parental permission for an abortion, and that it wasn’t likely to be forthcoming at my age and in my rural community, especially as I was determined that no one would ever know by whom I’d gotten pregnant. If, indeed, I got pregnant. Suicide, then, if I couldn’t get an abortion. Between the ages of 12 and 14, when I finally succeeded in stopping the abuse… in large part because of the aforementioned breast reduction surgery ( I was watched closely whilst healing so I wouldn’t rip the scars open…limiting access to me…and having known a brief time of freedom from the abuse, I gathered the courage to threaten my primary abuser with exposure, including contacting the police, if he didn’t leave me alone. I was terrified to confront him but I did it anyway.)

Me at about 10-11 years old

I thought about every form of suicide I knew of, and was frightened by thoughts of pain, death, and going to hell …. hell being the one thing I was fairly certain of. My cycles were always irregular, often late and sometimes skipping a month or more altogether, so the fear that I might have been impregnated was always intense, always present.

I’ve often heard or read the argument, regarding rape and/or incest, that it isn’t the baby’s fault – and it isn’t. However, I was practically a baby when the abuse began and it wasn’t my fault either. Looking back, I don’t fault myself for my decision to end a pregnancy engendered by incestuous rape in whatever way I could. It was even a loving thought, in it’s way, because I would never want a child to know that was how it was conceived. Well, at least as loving as my terrified 12 year old self could be. I am grateful I never had to enforce that decision and am well aware that, although it was the decision I’d made in advance, it could well not be the right decision for someone else. I applaud those who are able to keep and love children begun in such horrific circumstances, but I equally applaud and support those who have chosen otherwise. I very much feel we ~must~ be able to choose what is right for us to do, and that the only right thing is to support one another to the best of our ability. I firmly believe that to force anyone to carry a child conceived by incest or rape is a second rape, a rape of the soul; and that forcing a baby to have a baby tells the brutalised child quite graphically that they are worthless, and unworthy of protection. On the other hand, I am as fiercely against forced or coerced abortion as I am against it’s opposite. Choice is all, and it is my privilege to advocate for everyone’s right to choose the right path for themselves.

My beautiful daughter and I
Speaking of choices: several years later, as an adult, I did become pregnant. The circumstances weren’t easy and many courses of action were urged on me, including abortion.

I chose not to abort.
Why? Difficult circumstances were not enough reason for me to give up a miracle. The damage done to my body during the years I was sexually abused should have made it impossible to conceive or carry a child, and I was not going to turn my back on such a gift. Difficult was not the same as the horror of carrying and bearing a helpless child born of incestuous rape as no more than a child myself, not for me, and I knew that this was the baby I was meant to have and raise. I have no right to expect anyone else to live by my reasoning, nor do I know the wounds, horrors, or challenges another faces. None of us do. It is not given to us to judge one another, but to be patient and kind. To judge one another is neither.

My beautiful daughter, who is a Monday’s child by the by, just graduated from university; bringing her into the world and raising her during her early childhood, as a single mother, was not easy and I was not a perfect mother, but it is one of the best choices I ever made. Yes, Thursday’s child had far to go…but I’m getting there.


Jacqueline Mitchell is a grouchy, opinionated old gal with a penchant for popcorn and a more than slightly warped sense of humour. A ‘Jill of all Trades’, from being veep of an asbestos abatement monitoring laboratory to cake decorator, she is happily married to the Great Scot, mother and step-mother to one daughter, two stepsons, and three furry barkers.